From the Archives: Jonathan Pollard
The following is a summarized form of an article of the same title appearing in The Commentator on December 6, 1988
Pollard Unjustly Sentenced
By Josh Fruchter
On November 21, 1985, Jonathan Pollard, a US Navy counterintelligence analyst was arrested by the FBI on charges of spying for Israel. To avoid a public trial, the government offered a plea bargain, promising leniency in exchange for full cooperation and a confession. On March 4, 1987, after pleading guilty to the single count of passing classified information to an ally, i.e. Israel, Jonathan received his “reward” – life imprisonment. The government had totally reneged on the agreement which, as Jonathan soon realized, “wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on.”
Jonathan’s sentence is outrageous compared to previous espionage cases. Even Soviet Spies have received lighter prison terms. Adding insult to injury, Jonathan has been held in solitary confinement throughout his imprisonment. He was confined for 10 months to a psychiatric ward populated by “raving paranoid schizophrenics and mental deficients,” despite a public statement by a top prison official that Jonathan “is not a mental patient.”
It should be noted that Jonathan was never charged with compromising American security in any manner, shape or form. In fact, most of the information Jonathan passed to Israel should have been transferred through legal channels under the US- Israel intelligence agreement of 1983.
So why did Caspar Weinberger call Pollard “the worst spy in over 200 years of American history? Why did Weinberger… request the death penalty for Pollard? Obviously there are no grounds for the US government’s hyperbolic assertions.
Jonathan Pollard has stated, “I do not consider myself above the law and fully appreciate the fact that I should be punished for my activities.” The outrage lies in the severity of Jonathan’s sentence and his treatment in prison.
For those of us claiming adherence to the Torah and its precepts, it is only consistent that we accept the challenge of Pidyon Shevuyim. A fellow Jew is in need, a Jew who sacrificed his freedom for the survival of Israel.
The following is an excerpt from an article of the same title appearing in The Commentator on February 14, 1990
Anne Pollard Speaks at Stern
By Daniel Oshinsky
Mr. Henderson (Jonathan’s father in law) said a clear contradiction exists between US law and the moral principles laid out in the Nuremberg laws. Jonathan Pollard was obligated by the Nuremberg Laws to provide Israel with information vital to her citizen’s safety. Mr. Henderson also claimed that US Prosecutor Joseph Digenova used the Jewish community’s fear of being accused of dial loyalties to undercut support for the Pollards.
Jonathan Pollard decided to spy for Israel after learning that the US was compromising Israeli security by withholding vital intelligence information. This information included the construction of a Nerve gas plant in Syria, large scale purchases by the Syrians of Mig fighter planes, bombs, and missiles, and information on terrorist activities.
The following article appeared in The Commentator on May 2, 1990
Still No Justice for Pollard
By 1990 Editorial Board
The United States prides itself on the individual rights entitles to every man. Our Bill of Rights and Constitution defend these rights. A judicial system, basing itself on the concept of justice, exists to insure that these rights are not violated.
But the system fails. Political influence does still blind justice. Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. To further escalate the punishment, he must spend his perpetual incarceration in solitary confinement. He was convicted of spying for an ally, giving over information that was vital to that country’s security and that the country was already entitled to by treaty. In no way did the information compromise the security of the US.
These facts made no difference in the sentencing. Neither did a plea bargain agreement with the Prosecution. Nor does the fact that J. Walker, who caused immeasurable amounts of damage when he passed on vital information to an enemy of the United States, received a considerably lighter sentence.
It makes no difference to the world that the country he was found guilty of spying for was Isarel and that the information he passed on potentially saved scores of Israeli lives. But it should make a difference to us.
The students who attended the demonstration outside the gates of the Federal Penitentiary in Marion are calling for Justice. In the opinion of The Commentator, that is certainly a reasonable request. But action should not end there. The American Jewish community should make itself aware of the issue and examine the complicated questions involved in the case. As loyal Americans, we have the right to demand justice. As loyal Jews, we owe Jonathan Pollard a debt which we are all obligated to pay.